Iran Sees Determined US Push for More Sanctions

While the Trump administration is said already to have put Iran “on notice” for its latest ballistic missile test, the Iranians began to sense a new push by the United States for more punitive actions against Tehran even while President Obama was still in the White House. For example, in her last speech to the United Nations as the U.S. ambassador to that body, Samantha Power called for more international efforts to stop Iranian military exports and specifically to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Power was referring to U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 from July 2015, which amongst others gives the U.N. the power to review all Iranian arms-related transactions. According to Power, that resolution asks Tehran to cooperate with the U.N. on its “goodwill” not to engage in activities that U.N. Security Council members consider to be destabilizing. 

Power’s comments came shortly after the UN declared that Iran was respecting and abiding by the 2015 nuclear agreement. The head of the U.N. Political Affairs Chief, the former American diplomat Jeffrey Feltman, had earlier told the 15-member UN Security Council that “there had been no reports of nuclear-related or ballistic missile-related violations [by Iran] of the council [2015] resolution.” But Feltman did say that there were “concerns” that Iran “may have violated the resolution” about not exporting missiles to Hezbollah.

Interestingly, the evidence that Feltman pointed was comments made by Hezbollah leaders themselves who had said they “receive salaries, expenses, weapons and missiles” from Iran. Power’s comments on the same day, Wednesday (18 January), were basically a repetition of what Feltman said but Power’s said it more bluntly. Tehran has repeatedly said that it believes that earlier U.N. sanctions barring it from military exports are illegitimate. It has said that it will not be abiding by it. The Iranians, however, began quickly to consider such statements by the U.S. as a signal that Washington is looking to keep the pressure on Tehran, including the potential introduction of new sanctions. President Trump is probably expected to reinforce such American pressures on Tehran.